Bucs must think ahead to 2009

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just six games into the 2008 season, but it's never too late to start thinking out free agency in 2009. Scout.com's Adam Caplan has confirmed that at least 11 Bucs will be restricted or unrestricted free agents in 2009. Find out who the Bucs' FAs are and get expert analysis today!

WR Antonio Bryant: So far, Bryant is at least looking like a capable No. 2 or No. 3 receiver. Granted he's not scoring much, but he's making plays and moving the chains. Plus, with WR Joey Galloway beat up, Bryant is proving to be someone that can pick up the slack, something other Bucs receivers have struggled with in the past. Bryant knows he's playing for a longer deal in Tampa Bay, and with the potential for WR Michael Clayton to opt out of the final year of his deal, there should be the money and the wherewithal on the part of both parties to bet something done.

FS Will Allen: At one point, Allen was the future free safety. But that job is now Tanard Jackson's. However, Allen has proved to be a valuable special teams performer the past two years. Plus, he knows the system well and brining him back on a one- or two-year contract won't cost the Bucs that much.

CB Phillip Buchanon: He's making over $3 million this year and proving that his improved play last year wasn't a fluke. I get the impression that Buchanon is happy to stay in Tampa Bay after false starts in Oakland and Houston. The scheme suits him and he's still in the prime of his career. I do wonder what his contract demands will be in the offseason, though. He is not a player worth breaking the bank for by any stretch.

DE Kevin Carter: The guy is ageless. He had two sacks through four games and was starting on the left side. Carter is in such good shape it's almost hard to imagine that he'll slow down. But he will, and the Bucs must gauge that against re-signing the 14-year veteran this offseason. They won't have to release him for cap space, as they did a year ago. But they'll have to determine a price tag that's worth keeping him. $1-2 million seems reasonable.

T/G Anthony Davis: He was one the future left tackle. Now he's nothing more than depth. However, no one on the team has more experience on the Bucs' offensive line than Davis. Two factors will determine his return. First, how much are the Bucs on the hook for Sean Mahan's contract, who likely will be the No. 1 backup at guard in the future? And, where is Jeremy Zuttah's future? He can play all three line positions. Davis has been dependable when used, but I could see the Bucs cutting him loose given Mahan's and Zuttah's presence.

QB Jeff Garcia: With everything that has gone on this season between Garcia and the Bucs, it would stun me if he returned. The trust is broken between these two parties. Plus, Garcia will be 39 next year.

DT Jovan Haye: The Bucs slapped a first-round tender on Haye last offseason when he was an unrestricted free agent and that cost the Bucs $2 million. But will it cost them more? Haye and his agent wanted a longer-term deal, but the Bucs wavered, probably wanting to see if Haye could be productive in back-to-back seasons. If Haye felt disrespected during the process last offseason, he and his agent could shop the DT around for a better deal. Something tells me the Bucs will work to find a way to get Haye signed before free agency begins, as their depth at under tackle isn't spectacular.

QB Luke McCown: Only Brian Griese and Josh Johnson are under contract for 2009. Garcia seems like a goner to me, so it seems logical the Bucs would re-sign McCown, since he has four years of experience with the playbook and Gruden likes his mobility.

SS Jermaine Phillips: This will be one of the Bucs' toughest calls during the offseason. Phillips has enough talent to be courted by teams that employ the Cover 2 (Chicago and Detroit seem logical). He may cost enough that the Bucs will feel more comfortable handing the job to Sabby Piscitelli. The Bucs must, however, take Piscitelli's injury history into account before making their decision. If the Bucs aren't comfortable with Piscitelli, then they may overpay to keep Phillips.

DT Ryan Sims: He's nice depth, but I think the Bucs will take a shot at finding a veteran with more upside and, more important, mobility. Sims' 315-pound girth doesn't work in the scheme.

TE Jerramy Stevens: He sat on the free agent market for about three months before the Bucs re-signed him. It could happen again next offseason. Stevens isn't producing enough to warrant teams courting him with lucrative deals, so he'll likely be the Bucs' to lose.


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